Teaching and Workshops

Over the past five years I have developed and taught a number of undergraduate courses at Reed College, Portland State University ,and also develop professional courses for disaster managers through the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center at the University of Hawai’i. I have also developed a number of courses for an emerging new Master’s program at Portland State University in community resilience and emergency management.

Reed College

POL 375: Disaster Politics and Policy

Disasters are the intersection of risk, vulnerability, and society. Often one hears of increasing “natural disasters”—but are they natural? Who is impacted more by these events and why? And how do societies respond to these events? How do we select some dangers over others to prioritize? Why are some disaster impacts seemingly repetitive or continually impacting the same types of communities? This course reviews how communities have developed with disasters, continue to be impacted by them, and how research and politics work to improve (or worsen) our risks and responses to disaster. It explores how various models of disasters and risk have been deployed over time, and how new ideas around resilience, sustainability and democracy provide new avenues for thinking about disasters.

Link to POL 375 Syllabus

Portland State University Teaching

Honors 201: Urban Social Science

Urban societies, geography and economies are complex and dynamic. This is problematic for social scientists. What does it mean to be urban? Do urban sites change human relationships? Do they alter the way humans understand themselves, how they make their way through life? Or are urban systems really different at all? This course uses the urban world to both learn about social science methods and about social systems – with a focus on Portland as a case study.

This course is part of the required sophomore survey series in the Urban Honors College. The course provides a survey of social theory, methods and contemporary examples of research. The course is designed to have students conduct basic fieldwork in Portland – and to expand how they conceptualize social problems and experiences. Because the course is a requirement across the college, students that participate come from a diverse background.

Link to Honors 201 Syllabus

Honors 407: Science, Technology and Policy

Science, technology and politics are constantly providing unique and controversial interactions. Examples include climate change, vaccines, genetic patents and wire tapping – science and technology are core to the work of government and central to many of our political debates. This senior seminar for the Urban Honors College provides an introduction to the basic concepts in Science and Technology Studies. The course is a broad ranging seminar that allows students to engage different perspectives on understanding politics, knowledge and science. The course culminates with an in-depth essay that helps hone the tools for the senior thesis Honors students must also write.

A great set of movies to include if you can get your hands on them are the BBC Four series, Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams. This series is written and narrated by Simon Schaffer. It was available on Vimeo for a while before the copyright holder ended that. I also include the PBS American Experience special on Three Mile Island for the week we read Charles Perrow’s Normal Accidents.

Link to Honors 407 syllabus

Urban Studies and Planning 410/510: Community Resilience Planning

Disasters are the intersection of risk, vulnerability and society. Often one hears of increasing “natural disasters” – but are they natural? Who is impacted more by these events and why? And how do societies respond to these events? This course reviews how cities and societies have developed with disasters, continue to be impacted by them, and how research and politics work to improve our preparation and responses to disaster. The course explores how various models of disasters and risk that have been deployed over time, and how new ideas around resilience, sustainability and democracy provide new avenues for thinking about disasters.

The course includes a “hands-on” component centered on a series of integrated series workshops developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The FEMA workshops overlap with class meetings and include practitioners from the community. Students can become certified in four FEMA trainings (requires extra course work and time.) Students will also learn about practical planning tools and models for use in community hazard planning.

Course website, includes references and syllabus.

Professional Development Courses

Emerging Leaders Development Program: NOAA-Fisheries

I led a faculty team at Portland State University to create and pilot a leadership development program for NOAA-Fisheries. This program was developed for mid-career professionals in non-supervisory roles. We included three main areas of training in leadership: personal leadership, organizational leadership, and leadership in the broader policy and stakeholder community. I personally guided the development of a Science-Policy Interface series of modules as well as the policy process and American politics modules.

Community Resilience: Tools for Planners

I am currently developing a new Community Resilience workshop for the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center. This course will use web mapping tools to help operationalize resilience concepts with a focus on social vulnerability. The course is designed to help take high level concepts around resilience and make them useful for city or regional planning applications.

Academic Blogging Workshop

A colleague and I hosted a workshop for graduate students on how to set up and run a blog. It was a fun workshop focused on getting the site up and running and getting into a writing groove. The link below takes you to the materials we shared with the participants.

Blogging Workshop Details